B&K boss: balance key to running a successful brewpub

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Right balance: B&K boss Kris Gumbrell (pictured) shares secrets to running a successful brewpub
Right balance: B&K boss Kris Gumbrell (pictured) shares secrets to running a successful brewpub

Related tags Beer Brewing Brewhouse and Kitchen

A successful brewpub is all about getting the “right balance”, according to Brewhouse and Kitchen (B&K) executive chair Kris Gumbrell.

Gumbrell explained while there would generally be more revenue from the pub side of the business, the key for any successful brewpub is not to take the advantage of a “locked in outlet” for granted.

He said: “[You’ve got to] ensure the brand's product quality doesn't get pushed back or become secondary.

“We’ve always worked like that. Even though they're in the same pub, which is so unique and unusual, we treat the pub and brewery almost like separate units.

“It's about making both parts of the business internally stand on their own two feet, if you get that balance right and make sure teams are extremely well trained on beer quality and styles, having that authority of knowledge is what's important.”

In addition, as well as having a “locked in outlet” for products, Gumbrell added there were multiple other benefits to operating a brewpub.

Guest experience 

“If there's a problem or concern with the beer, the manager can address that with the brewery then the brewers are constantly audited around quality and productivity as well in their own right”, he continued.

However, Gumbrell stated quality does not always mean having a vast range, but in some cases, less is more.

“We can produce real fine quality with small batch brewing on a site-by-site basis and making sure that translates into the guest experience. The guests get something special and unique.

“It’s award-winning, it’s credible, the only way you can deliver that is by being obsessive around cleanliness, quality, and consistency.

“We have standard recipes for all of our beers that we carry, the current count is 270 different beers that we brew in our business. Very small batches, but as a result we have a recipe database, as well”, he added.

Gumbrell also explained having brewers onsite encouraged more engaging conversations with customers, which could in turn help sales.

He said: “Our brewers are walking around offering samples and getting feedback from customers about what they think of the beer, its clarity, quality, flavour profile, strength etc.

Boost sales

“When staff have engaging conversations [with customers], people will experiment and they will come back to you, they'll trust the product and the team, that helps sales, it tips and all those other things as well.”

Moreover, the executive added this could also help boost cask’s profile and change its “boring” reputation with consumers.

Gumbrell said: “We wonder why cask isn’t selling but it's because, quite often, the people who are doing the training on the ground floor know nothing about that part of the business and don’t understand the product range.

“The industry needs to make sure quality is at the forefront of everything [and that] can sometimes means a smaller range. That's the compromise because you can't get quality if you carry too many.”

Though Gumbrell claimed it was also important to stock beers from outside the brewpub to keep brew staff motivated.

He said: “We carry around 27 different draught products of which, about 14 will have been brewed on site.

Big difference 

“So, there are still 10 to 13 ‘other beers’ on the bar that have been brewed by other operators.

“A lot of brew pubs don't do that, they stick to their own beers only, but where's the competitiveness and pressure on the brewer?

“If we put on other high-quality beers, [the brewing team] know they've got to step up and make sure that their beers are better than those or at least comparable.

“That gives us credibility and analysis. And our team has achieved that.”

Lastly, Gumbrell surmised a combination of the above had contributed to Brewhouse & Kitchen’s success at the Publican Awards earlier this year, where the company was crowned Best Brewing Pub Company​.

He said: “We're passionate about our brewing, we understand the relationship between the beer and the pub.

“We treat brewing no different from the kitchen in terms of standard recipes, cleanliness, good cellar management, clean beer lines, through to good quality and clean glassware, being fastidious about all those elements makes a big difference.”

Related topics Beer

Related news

Show more